Sabrina only wanted one thing, to have her normal life back. A few months ago, she had become vegan. The reasons were as simple as they were obvious. After she had taken a closer look at how so-called farm animals are treated in our society, the effects on the environment and one’s own health, it was clear that there was no alternative. With great zeal, she began to explore the diverse possibilities of vegan nutrition and felt fit and full of energy. Everything would have been fine if it hadn’t been for the environment and her own perception.
In her enthusiasm, she told everyone about her newfound knowledge, brought home-baked, vegan muffins and expected that other people would now also deal with the topic. But far from it. First and foremost, it was her family who mocked the fact that they could no longer be invited because of their eating disorder. But her friends weren’t any better either, because they thought she was trying to impose her will on them. In addition to the well-known vegan jokes, she was also able to listen to the prejudices that were mentioned again and again. But even that wasn’t the worst of it.
“The worst,” she told me frankly, “was my own perception. When my friend ate his ham sandwich in the morning, I immediately thought of the pigs on fully slatted floors, the mothers in the crates and the piglet castration without anesthetic. Before my eyes, the milk he put in the coffee turned red and I saw the calves in their boxes desperately crying out for their mother or on the transporters, abandoned and uncared for. As he cracked open the breakfast egg, images of featherless hens barely able to walk came to mind. But that was only at home. When I was shopping in the supermarket and passed the meat or sausage aisle, the souls of all the abused, abused creatures that lay there neatly sliced up to be bought would appear. If I ran across someone with a fur, then I saw the penned animals in the fur farms in front of me. And with the cosmetics shelf, it was the screams of the test animals that followed me. It wasn’t any better in the pharmacy either. In short, everywhere I looked, wherever I went, death and ruin surrounded me. I saw it, the others didn’t. I hadn’t seen it a few months before either, because I wasn’t aware of it. I just lived along like everyone else, I didn’t come to terms with death, I didn’t make any connection at all. That’s why so many can make fun of veganism because they don’t see it and don’t want to see it. We grew up with it, didn’t question it and after all there are so many other issues that we have to deal with on a daily basis. But then I made the mistake of wanting to know more, becoming aware of all the misery. And because I’m aware of it, I see it. Shutdown doesn’t work anymore, nor does denial, because you can’t just return to the state of innocence once you’ve left it. And then strange things happen. I’m meeting a friend for coffee. When she pours the milk into her coffee, my expression seems to change so that she asks me if there’s something wrong with me. I’ll tell her about the cows and the calves. She gets disgusted and says I should just leave her alone. Besides, I don’t need to be so touched, because she only drinks very little milk anyway and that’s what cows are for, after all. They should be happy that we breed them for milk, otherwise they wouldn’t even have been born. In a final push, I try to convey the suffering to her. To which she replies that she doesn’t want to hear that because it would only spoil her appetite. But then why wouldn’t she be vegan, I finally ask. Because that wouldn’t be normal, she says promptly. Then she stopped calling me. I feel like an outcast, wish I could undo this and not know what I know now. I wish I could just go back to normal.”
Sabrina is not an isolated case. Why is it so difficult for people who work for the well-being of others in our society? Quite simply because we don’t want to change anything and just want to stay the way we are, namely normal. That’s why Sabrina will probably give up her commitment and start consuming animal products again, just so as not to attract attention and to conform to normality. Not many are strong enough to stand up to the majority. That’s why it’s more important to support them so that one day they can say I live in a society where it’s normal not to cause suffering and those who still cling to cruelty are singled out. I just hope Sabrina and all the others hold out that long.